June 2021

JUN 30, 2021 – Hillsborough County School Board Stands Firm On Charter School Decision

The Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday stood by its decision to not renew the contracts of four of the district’s charter schools.

The board met primarily to discuss its 2022 legislative priorities, but more than 200 community members attended to hear how the board would address a stern letter they received from Florida’s Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran last week.

The letter stated that the board’s vote to deny the renewal of Kid’s Community College Charter School, Pivot Charter School, SouthShore Charter Academy, and Woodmont Charter School earlier this month “appears to be contrary to law” because the schools were not given enough notice.

Read more…

JUN 29, 2021 – There’s A ‘Mass Exodus’ Of Teachers At STEM School In Highlands Ranch. Parents, Staff And Students Say School Leadership Is To Blame

Kelly Murphy said it’s been a tough few weeks for the community of families at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

On June 15, a jury found one of the former students accused of a shooting at the school guilty on 46 counts, including murder. Murphy said sitting through the trial and verdict “crushed” her — but that feeling was only compounded in a Zoom meeting that same night where she and others described feeling powerless that no one on the STEM board, the school’s governing body, is listening to them about their deep concerns about the school.

Read more…

JUN 25, 2021 – School district could shutter Singleton Charter over $1 million owed by Dryades YMCA

The New Orleans Public School district is considering closing James Singleton Charter School because of lingering questions about how the Dryades YMCA, the organization that runs the Central City school, has used more than $1.1 million in school funds.

The 116-year-old YMCA, one of only four historically Black YMCAs left in the U.S., has run the James Singleton Charter School since 2006. It was founded by former City Councilman Jim Singleton, who is no longer involved with its governance.

Read more…

JUN 23, 2021 – Staff, supporters picket at Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School in Chicopee after two-thirds of teachers lose jobs

More than 50 people protested at Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School on Wednesday, accusing administrators of “union busting” after the contracts of two-thirds of the educators were not renewed at the end of the year.

Teachers, parents, students, alumni and even educators from other schools joined the afternoon picket in front of theschool. They carried signs that read “Unions=Social Justice” and “Contract Now,” and chanted “Hey Gil, you’re no good, treat your workers like you should,” a reference to the school’s executive director, Gil Traverso.

Read more…

JUN 22, 2021 – O.C. Ed Board balks at punishing Costa Mesa charter school for possible violations

A Costa Mesa charter school has until July 7 to demonstrate how it will correct several operational indiscretions being investigated by county education officials as potential violations, even as the Orange County Board of Education hesitates to take punitive action.

OCDE officials allege the school reported to the California Department of Education an enrollment of 150 students for the 2020-21 school year, when a budget submitted to the county for the same fiscal year projected growth of 100 students. The state consequently overpaid the school, based on the inaccurate attendance figures.

Read more…

JUN 21, 2021 – Leadership at Lycée Français resign amid labor law, administrative pay investigations

Two top administrators and a governing board member have resigned from Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans, a popular French immersion charter school, following accusations that the school leaders had violated labor laws and fostered hostile environments for other employees.

Marina Schoen, the longtime CEO of Lycée Français, gave her notice in letters to staff and the school’s nonprofit board of directors on Friday, hours after she said Jethro Celestin, the school’s chief operating officer, will be leaving to “explore other professional opportunities.”

Read more…

JUN 22, 2021 – Charter schools to create $3 million ‘fail’ fund

When the news broke in December 2019 that the American International School of Utah was under investigation for misappropriating nearly half a million dollars in state and federal education funds, it left a black eye on charter schools that hasn’t entirely healed.

Recently, advocates for charter schools came up with a kind of fix: a “Charter School Closure Reserve Account,” like an emergency rainy-day fund that would ensure that if a charter school closes with outstanding debts, they could be resolved right away.

How much reserve would be enough? They decided on a figure: $3 million.

Read more…

JUN 18, 2021 – San Diego charter school shutters doors

The school will close at the end of the month and has been working with current students’ families to help them find new schools for the fall. Most of the school’s students, who are in grades 6-12, are socioeconomically disadvantaged and are Black or Latino, according to state data.

Annette Kennedy, the school’s interim director, attributed the school’s closure to low enrollment.

“It’s just not been in the best interest of the school to continue,” Kennedy said in an interview. “It’s truly bittersweet. No one wants a school to close but, in reality, a school has to have enrollment to maintain sustainability.”

Read more…

JUN 18, 2021 – Ridge View shut down after allegations of drugs, improper restraints of kids – Colorado Springs, Colorado

State officials suddenly closed a detention center for troubled children and teens on Thursday, arrived on campus after a high school graduation ceremony, and moved the children to other foster care centers.

The Ridgeview Youth Service Center, where children attend charter schools on campus and receive intensive treatment for behavioral health, has been ordered by the State Human Services Department to close by July 1.

The center was allowed to accommodate up to 500 people, but was caring for less than 50 boys.

Read more…

JUN 17, 2021 – State says former Dayton charter school leaders misspent $31,896

Administrators of the former Watkins Academy charter school in southwest Dayton have been accused by state auditors of misspending $31,896.

Auditor of State Keith Faber this week released the 2016, 2017 and partial 2018 financial-year audits for the school, which opened in 2012 and closed its 4401 Dayton-Liberty Road campus in September 2017.

The state issued findings for recovery of more than $30,000 against the school’s former superintendent, Bobbie Watkins-Tyree, for purchases “that were not supported by an itemized receipt and/or were not for a proper public purpose.”

Read more…

JUN 16, 2021 – Singleton Charter in New Orleans ordered to find new CEO; school accused of violating ethics law

James M. Singleton Charter School, the Central City school run by the Dryades YMCA, must find a new interim CEO by Friday because the current appointment runs afoul of state ethics laws, according to NOLA Public Schools.

The directive, sent in a noncompliance letter dated Monday, is the latest of a series of citations NOLA Public Schools has issued against the charter in recent months, including one investigation that led to the arrest of a high-level administrator accused of falsifying background checks for school employees and pocketing the money instead.

Read more…

JUN 15, 2021 – Utah oversight of charter schools ‘unclear,’ has gaps in accountability, audit finds

Out of 45 states with charter school programs, Utah is the only state that doesn’t require schools to renew their contracts after a certain period of time — meaning there’s a missed opportunity to ensure standards are being met, Ryan Thelin, lead auditor of the review ordered by the Legislature, told legislative leaders Tuesday during an interim committee meeting.

Read more…

JUN 14, 2021 – Aspire ERES students, staff say goodbye to their shuttered Fruitvale charter school

After trying and failing to secure a more permanent location for Aspire ERES Academy to allow for expansion, the charter school’s leaders made the decision this year to permanently close the kindergarten through eighth grade school, which has been housed in a small, run-down church building in Fruitvale for 12 years. 

Read more…

JUN 10, 2021 – Charter commission flags finances at four schools

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission put four of its schools on notice over their finances during a Thursday meeting, including one under investigation for its use of taxpayer dollars.

The seven-member commission voted unanimously to issue “notifications of fiscal concern” for Monticello Montessori Charter, Peace Valley Charter, Bingham Academy and The Village Charter.

Read more…

JUN 11, 2021 – Former charter school operator owes nearly $1 million, New Orleans school district says in suit

The Orleans Parish public school district has sued the nonprofit organization that ran Mary D. Coghill Charter School for years until its charter was canceled, claiming the organization’s board misappropriated public funds and still owes the school district nearly $1 million.

The lawsuit was filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court last month against the Better Choice Foundation, which operated the F-rated school until NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. refused to renew their contract and ordered the district to take it over.

Read more…

JUN 08, 2021 – NC charter school closes after ‘financial irregularities’ found

On Friday morning, the board voted to terminate the school’s charter in an emergency meeting “after painstaking reflection and deliberation.”

That same day, Board Chairwoman Kristis Edison and the Interim Head of School Tom Miller, informed the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools of the decision.

On Monday, the North Carolina Charter Schools Advisory Board voted to accept the charter relinquishment. That board reports its votes to the State Board of Education for final approval.

“Obviously this is a very serious matter,” Charter Schools Advisory Board Chairman Alex Quigley said prior to the vote.

The board discussed the item for less than two minutes, and Bridges Academy representatives weren’t present.

Read more…

JUN 09, 2021 – Frederick Classical Charter School put on probation amid governance disputes

The Frederick County Board of Education, during a meeting filled with emotional testimony Wednesday, voted to put Frederick Classical Charter School on probation, aiming to curb what community members described as a hostile and dysfunctional governance system.

Despite the school’s high academic performance, parents and administrators said issues with its governing body, the Board of Trustees, were hindering its basic functions. More than a dozen community members attended Wednesday’s work session, most speaking in favor of the probation and punctuating the meeting with murmurs of agreement.

Read more…

JUN 08, 2021 – St. Paul charter school loses $4.3M with illegal investment in New Jersey hedge fund

A St. Paul charter school last school year invested $5 million in a New Jersey hedge fund, in violation of state law, and most of that money may be lost forever.

Auditors working to close the books on Hmong College Prep Academy’s 2019-20 financials disclosed the mistake to the school’s board during an emergency meeting in December.

The school on Nov. 30 asked the hedge fund, Woodstock Capital Partners, to liquidate the investment, according to board meeting minutes. But multiple deadlines were missed, the hedge fund’s agent never showed up to board meetings, and the school ultimately received just $684,762.

Read more…

JUN 08, 2021 – Ammon charter school violated eight special education laws, according to state investigation

Issues at the school include violations of both the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Idaho Special Education Manual. The report outlines a range of “corrective actions” for the school in the coming months.

The SDE’s report surfaces amid a months-long investigation into the embattled charter school’s finances by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, which includes questions over some $11,500 in unexplained payments and purchases at the school.

Read more…

JUN 07, 2021 – Is the Charter Schools Program financing white-flight academies?

North Carolina’s private Hobgood Academy opened its doors in September of 1970. For decades, the overwhelmingly White private school, located near a public school whose students are overwhelmingly Black (90 percent), served as a haven for White families willing to pay tuition rather than send their children to an integrated public school.

However, the privilege of segregation came with a cost — $5,000 a year in tuition that parents decided taxpayers should assume.

Read more…

JUN 06, 2021 – Many Unanswered Questions Linger Over PACE Career Academy Closure

Some members of the board of trustees for PACE Career Academy announced its closure last week citing staffing, lack of fundraising, and operational and financial shortfalls. The school was founded a decade ago as PACE, an acronym for the towns of Pembroke, Allenstown, Chichester, and Epsom. It offers an alternative pathway to graduation to assist students in designing their own academic, career, and personal growth path with individualized instruction and small educator-to-student ratios.

Read more…

JUN 05, 2021 – Bridges Academy closing, investigated by SBI

Bridges Academy in State Road is closing amid “financial irregularities that threaten the financial well-being of the school,” stated a press release issued by the charter school Friday.

Meanwhile, State Bureau of Investigation spokesman Angie Grube said Friday that the agency is investigating allegations that Bridges fraudulently obtained excess funding from the state.

Grube said the investigation began in March and that no additional information from the SBI is available at this time.

Read more…

JUN 04, 2021 – Audit confirms findings of FOX 13 investigation into public school with ties to polygamous sect

Vanguard Academy in West Valley City continues to receive millions of dollars in public funds, despite the fact that its students and teachers almost exclusively belong to the same polygamous religious organization known as the Kingston group, or Davis County Cooperative Society.

Public schools are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of race or religion, thanks to the separation of church and state established in the United States Constitution.

Read more…

JUN 03, 2021 – Inside a bruising battle over a new charter school on Nashville’s west side

A proposed new charter school in affluent West Nashville has stirred up the echoes of the city’s most brutal public education battle in recent history and provided yet another test of a new state law that watered down local control.

Nashville is just under nine years removed from Arizona-based Great Hearts Academy’s failed bid to build a charter school that would have appealed to the families who enroll their children in private schools. The Great Hearts fight created a dividing line between left-leaning politicians protective of traditional public schools and education reformers, who are politically backed mostly by Republicans.

Read more…

JUN 04, 2021 – Commentary: Scandals show need to boost oversight of charter schools

Charter schools in Texas are granted autonomy from many state regulations so they can create innovative programs that promote student achievement — but a lack of public oversight has too often led to fraud, waste and abuse.

Texas needs to create a strong and proactive system of oversight: Instances of mismanagement of public funds within the state’s charter sector are well-documented.

Read more…

JUN 02, 2021 – Monticello board chair resigns amid investigation

The board chair of an Ammon public charter school has resigned in the face of a state investigation into the school’s finances.

Ken Glodo on Saturday submitted his resignation as both board chair and a board member of Monticello Montessori Charter School’s governing board, effective immediately, according to an email obtained by Idaho EdNews through a public records request to the school.

Read more…

JUN 01, 2021 – CTU educators consider striking Epic charter in wake of retaliatory firings of union leaders

Educators had landed a tentative agreement on a first contract in late May. During the union’s ratification process, Epic’s Executive Director LeeAndra Khan terminated four workers — including three on the negotiating committee. Epic’s executive director most recently worked as CEO of Chicago’s Civitas schools, a charter operator with a history of anti-union, anti-educator policies that provoked the longest charter strike in US history in February 2019.

Read more…